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What Makes Your Community a Smart One?

This blog post is an excerpt from our new report, Delivering Smart Communities Through a Geospatial Strategy, download the full resource here.

Depending on who you ask, you’ll likely hear myriad responses on what makes a community smart.

Smart communities are those that make the lives of their citizens better through technology. They understand that “smart” is a journey, not a tool or a destination.

These communities aren’t waiting for someone to deem them “smart,” they are simply using their investment in geographic information systems (GIS) and complementary technology like internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and more to make better decisions that lead to better outcomes. Those outcomes can then be shared and replicated in other communities that are tackling similar issues, such as addressing homelessness or improving infrastructure.

One of the biggest developments in the smart communities movement is shifting from the idea of a single application for making a community “smart” to a series of interrelated technologies that can holistically address multiple issues. IT-savvy executives and their staff have embraced this truth, and are tapping into the power of GIS to change lives.

What Makes a Strong Smart Community Strategy?

Before you begin investing in new applications and rethinking business processes, you must first have a strategy in place. The driving force behind selecting the right information system is a deep understanding of what matters most to your community.

“Our citizens in Cobb County want to be involved,” said Sharon Stanley, Director of the county’s Information Services Department. “We try to inform them. We’re transparent. We want them involved in the decisions we make.”

What is your goal? Do you want your community to be safer, well-run or more resilient? Your strategy should address your overarching goal and purpose and will help you determine what technologies are needed to connect different systems of records, systems of insights and systems of engagement.

That’s the approach government employees used in Cobb County, Georgia. As in many counties that include a large metropolitan area, Cobb County residents contend with a lot of traffic. Knowing this was a pain point for their constituents, county officials invested in an adaptive traffic system that can detect vehicle and pedestrian traffic at each juncture and intersection and change the light accordingly.

To read more about Cobb County, where engagement is central to the county’s smart strategy, download our full resource here.

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